BHOPAL, Dec 9: The suspense over who will become the next chief minister of Madhya Pradesh is likely to end on Monday when the BJP’s 163 newly-elected legislators meet and select their leader in the presence of central observers, a party functionary said.
In the November 17 Madhya Pradesh assembly elections, the results of which were declared last Sunday, the BJP won as many as 163 of the 230 seats, leaving the Congress a distant second at 66.
The party on Friday appointed Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, its OBC ‘Morcha’ head K Laxman and its secretary Asha Lakra as central observers for electing the leader of its legislative party in Madhya Pradesh.
“The central observers will chair a meeting of party MLAs on Monday,” MP BJP media cell head Ashish Agrawal told PTI on Saturday.
The schedule of the meeting will be shared with the media once it is finalised, he added.
Party sources said the meeting is likely to begin any time between 5 pm or 7 pm on Monday.
The meeting was earlier scheduled to take place on Sunday, but it was put off till Monday due to the busy schedule of observers, they said.
The observers are likely to arrive in Madhya Pradesh on Sunday evening or Monday morning, the sources said.
This is for the third time in the last 19 years that the BJP is sending central observers to Madhya Pradesh.
In August 2004, when Uma Bharti resigned as chief minister, the party’s senior leaders Pramod Mahajan and Arun Jaitley were sent as central observers to the state. In November 2005, when Babulal Gaur resigned from the top post in the state, Rajnath Singh was sent as a central observer to help legislators pick the new chief minister. At that time, Shivraj Singh Chouhan was elected as the leader of the legislative party.
This time, the saffron party contested the assembly elections without projecting incumbent Chief Minister Chouhan as its CM face. It was after 20 years that the party did not name its chief ministerial candidate before polls in MP.
According to party insiders, the BJP might zero in on another Other Backward Classes (OBC) leader in case it replaces Chouhan, the longest-serving chief minister of BJP in India with a break of 15 months. He is also the longest-serving chief minister of MP as well.
In such a condition, Prahlad Patel, a Lodhi who has been elected from Narsinghpur assembly seat and has resigned as Union minister, could become the frontrunner for the CM position. Lodhis are a part of the OBC community.
The BJP leadership has gone with OBC leaders for the top post in the state since 2003 when it projected Uma Bharti, a Lodhi. A year later, the party put its bet on another OBC, Babulal Gaur, and then finally on Chouhan in 2004, given the fact that the population of OBCs in MP was over 48 per cent.
Meanwhile, Prahlad Patel was here on Friday and visited the state assembly complex and CM Chouhan.
The name of Narendra Tomar, who has been elected from Dimani and has since resigned as Union minister, was doing rounds for the CM’s post. According to party insiders, BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and BJP state chief V D Sharma are among other potential candidates.
All four big guns – Patel, Tomar, Vijayvargiya and Sharma – have already met Union Home Minister and BJP’s master strategist Amit Shah in New Delhi. They also called on party president J P Nadda. These leaders have publicly denied that they are vying to be the CM. (PTI)